Tampa Alcoholic Beverage Law
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What Tampa Business Owners Should Know About Alcoholic Beverage Law

Tampa is home to thousands of breweries, distilleries, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. As a frequent contender on “Best Places to Live” lists and a destination for millions of tourists each year, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area is a prime spot for those in the beer, wine, and liquor industries.

However, alcoholic beverage laws are notoriously challenging to navigate. Whether you are looking to acquire a liquor license or need assistance navigating complex rules and regulations, turn to Rubert Law. Attorney Samuel Rubert has extensive experience guiding Tampa business owners and entrepreneurs through a web of federal, state, and local alcoholic beverage laws.

How A Tampa Liquor License Attorney Can Assist

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) controls liquor licensing at the federal level. The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT) controls licensing and regulating liquor laws in Florida, including here in Tampa.

Whether you are just starting out or have owned a business for years and are looking to make a change, Tampa business owners should engage a liquor license attorney as early as possible. That is the best way to minimize the hassles you may face.

Helping Tampa Businesses To Comply With Local Laws And Ordinances

Much of Florida alcoholic beverage law is governed at the federal or state level. However, cities and counties also have unique laws and ordinances that can create hurdles for businesses to comply with, and Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa have some of the most complex alcoholic beverage law zoning in the state. Here are some common questions we hear pertinent to Tampa alcoholic beverage law.

What Is The Process To Get Approval For A Location In Tampa To Sell Alcohol?

Unlike most other cities, Tampa and Hillsborough County, require a ‘wet zoning’ process to establish any alcoholic beverage use. This means it requires a specific application to the appropriate zoning authority and may require a public hearing – this is true even for beer and wine only restaurants. It is therefore essential to obtain counsel as early in the process as possible. It might be too late to fix once you have signed your lease for a particular location.

What Is Tampa’s Policy On Open Containers?

Open container laws vary by city and can easily become confusing for both businesses and customers to follow. In most places in the Tampa Bay area, business owners should understand customers are not permitted to bring their opened alcoholic beverages outside to carry in public.

There are exceptions to this rule. Tampa’s Riverwalk and St. Petersburg’s Pier District both allow consumption of open alcoholic beverages, with limitations like requiring individuals to buy a drink from vendors or restaurants in the area. Some local events also allow open containers, like Gasparilla in Tampa. Beaches in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area for the most part do not allow alcohol. Some have exceptions, such as prohibiting glass containers or only allowing alcohol purchased from beach restaurants or vendors.

What Are Tampa’s Hours Of Service?

Tampa permits the sale of alcohol daily from 7:00 am to 3:00 am. Prior to 2021, Tampa prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays before 11:00 am, known as a blue law. After repealing this ordinance, each day of the week has uniform hours of service for alcohol sales.

Which Liquor License Is Right For My Tampa Bar, Brewery, Distillery, Or Restaurant?

The liquor license that is right for your business in the Tampa Bay area will greatly depend on your circumstances. Here are a few questions to consider when determining which license is right for you:

  • What types of alcohol will your business sell? Will sales be limited to beer and wine, or include liquor?
  • Will you sell alcohol for on-premises consumption, off-premises consumption, or a combination of both?
  • Will your business also sell food?
  • Will your business brew or distill alcohol on site, distribute alcohol, or perform any other unique functions?

An experienced liquor license lawyer can help you answer these questions and others that identify the right license for you. In many cases, a quota license will be right for your Tampa business. In this case, attorney Samuel Rubert can walk you through options to obtain a quota license, including purchasing an existing license from a business owner looking to sell or entering in the annual Quota License Lottery Drawing.

Call An Experienced Tampa Alcoholic Beverage Law Attorney

Attorney Samuel Rubert can help Tampa businesses navigate applicable alcoholic beverage laws and regulations to keep the process “headache-free.” With offices in Weston and Miami, we work with business owners throughout Florida, including in Tampa and Orlando. Call us in Weston at 954-546-7951 or in Miami at 305-809-7669. You may also send us an email to schedule your initial consultation.